Ed Sheeran has kicked off the Brit Awards with a surprise performance alongside metal rockers Bring Me The Horizon.
The chart-topping singer, who released his fifth studio album titled Equals in October, took to the stage at London’s O2 Arena to perform his hit Bad Habits backed by the Sheffield-formed outfit and dancers wearing punk-inspired outfits.
Host Mo Gilligan started with a sketch in which he attempted to plan a dramatic entrance, but is thwarted by the show’s policies on carbon emissions.
He later described the venue as “The Mo-2 Arena”.
The awards ceremony this year features an all-British line-up of live performers including rapper Dave, rising star award winner Holly Humberstone, Liam Gallagher and Little Simz.
US rapper and singer Doja Cat was forced to pull out of appearing after members of her crew tested positive for Covid-19.
Last week, pop superstar Adele, who leads the pack with four nominations, confirmed she will perform during the event.
She walked the red carpet wearing a sweeping black velvet gown with a tulle overlay and wore a large ring on her fourth finger – prompting speculation on social media that she is engaged to her sports agent boyfriend Rich Paul.
It comes after she postponed her Las Vegas Caesars Palace residency at short notice, with Grammy-winning country music star Keith Urban stepping in to replace her.
The Brits academy faced pressure to do away with its male and female-specific awards this year and has scrapped gendered categories, introducing gender-neutral gongs in their place.
Nominations for the Brit Awards this year feature the most women in more than a decade, with 18 female artists or all-women groups receiving nods.
On the red carpet, Sam Fender said it felt “fantastic” to be nominated for three awards.
He added: “I love any excuse to come out dressed up like this and have a party. And we got a party bus full of sausages and booze.”
Asked what he would do if he won an award, he replied: “Drive the bus into the Thames… I think we are going to go out and party.”
Fellow singer Tom Grennan described getting two nominations as “crazy” and “a massive honour”.
Describing how he would respond to a win, he said: “To be honest, I would go back to Bedford where I am from and put a little note into the council to try and get a Tom Grennan statue.”
The most nominated stars are Adele, Sheeran, Little Simz and Dave, who are each up for four gongs.
British rapper Dave, who gave a memorable performance of his track Black at the 2020 show, is up for artist, album and song of the year as well as hip hop/grime/rap act.
London-based Simbiatu Ajikawo, aka Little Simz, is also nominated in the best artist and album categories and has also received a nod for best new artist.
They will compete against Fender for the inaugural artist of the year award.
Fender, Central Cee and David Guetta are each up for three awards.
The 2022 Brit Awards continue on ITV.